“A cage went in search of a bird.”
— The Zürau Aphorisms of Franz Kafka
What is so frustrating, yet so sublimely pleasing about conceptual work? Is it the slight feeling of the guilt of making a big something out of seemingly nothing? As the viewer, allowing yourself to walk in on someone else’s private meditation? Is it exploitative of the art form? Exploitative of us?
I think of contemporary conceptual artmaking as a word which is said so many times over that it somehow abstracts, heaves, turns inside out, and becomes something else. That’s the transformative power of working with ideas and allowing them to stand on their own: the indulgence of making a big something out of seemingly nothing. A passing thought, a political agenda, a literary phrase regurgitated by the wonder of the human brain. It somehow makes life grander, doesn’t it? Other disciplines seem to fall away, as there are no rules with this one. We can be writers, philosophers, children, designers, photographers, drawers, painters, performers. The idea leads. It is unadulterated. Now isn’t that noble? The image above is from the latest series of work by Sreshta Rit Premnath, an art practitioner living and working in New York City.
From his statement about the work:
In this series of photographic interventions, images culled from the US Navy’s website, linked to the operations being carried out against pirates in Somalia, are cropped, cut, reassembled and reframed under the headings “Surrender” and “Surround.” The lexicon of the sublime landscape is collided with that of military operations. While the sublime landscape is said to surround the viewer thus enticing his soul to surrender, strategic operations are carried out by the Navy in order to surround the pirates and force them to surrender.
The ocean is explored as territory that lies outside the realm of governmentality – a site of awe and threat. Day and night enormous quantities of cargo – the embodied process of the distribution of commodities – ply these waters silently, transparently. It is only at the moment of their disappearance that they suddenly become present to us all. Suddenly, when an oil tanker goes missing, its enormous body comes into focus. It is then that the cage goes in search of the bird. Law must be forced upon the lawless in order to make the absent present. In order to, once again, make the present disappear.
Sreshta’s work can be seen in these upcoming shows:
Moment as Monument (A Selection from Travancore)
Artists: Chitra Ganesh, Matthias Müller, Yamini Nayar, Srestha Rit Premnath, Mahbub Shah, Kiran Subbaiah, Haeri Yoo
Please join us for a viewing of works from our exhibition Moment as Monument in New Delhi. The selection will be on display at the gallery from November 12 – December 19, 2009. Opening Reception: Thursday, November 12, 6-8:30 pm.
Thomas Erben Gallery
526 West 26th Street, Floor 4
New York, NY 10001
The Third Side
Studies in radical nostalgia
Interpretations in dance, theater and music/sound headlined by two NYC-based artists: choreographer and installation artist Rebecca Davis, and interdisciplinary artist and independent researcher, Sreshta Rit Premnath. A coterie of Portland performance artists respond with their own revisions of recollecting.
programmed by Bethany Ides
December 4 & 5, 8 pm
Performance Works NorthWest
4625 SE 67th Ave.
Tickets: $10 – $15
Reserve at 503-777-1907
or buy advance tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/88097
Alembic is an ongoing series of performative events at Performance Works NorthWest curated by guest artists from the worlds of dance, theater, visual and media arts.
THE THIRD SIDE of the tape occurs when the magnetic tape is twisted from exhaustion and outstrips its memory.
This program collects interpretations in dance, theater and music/sound — each internalized and processed before reemerging and taking new form. Rebecca Davis, a choreographer and installation artist based in Brooklyn, will premier “I’ll Crane for You,” the result of her participation in Deborah Hay’s 2008 Solo Commissioning Project. Interdisciplinary artist and independent researcher Sreshta Rit Premnath’s (NYC) score has instigated a group of local performers in dynamically rehashing a playlist of sappy 70′s folk songs. The songs once filled the halls of Premnath’s now-demolished art school as if a prelude to its demise. Culled from its ruins, these reinterpreted melodies configure a new site – half memorial, half razed ground..
Sreshta’s website: www.circumscript.net